Stories

Rita Allen Cassel

Rita Allen Cassel was the founder of the Rita Allen Foundation and for many years served as its President. Her strong interest in supporting medical research and promoting cultural advancement are threads still found today in the fabric of the Rita Allen Foundation.

A theatrical producer in the 1950s and 60s, Allen Cassel co-produced The Grass Harp by Truman Capote as well as My Three Angels, an adaption of the French play La Cuisine Des Anges. With her second husband, Milton Cassel, she coproduced The Making of the Moo and The Cut of the Axe.

The Cassels collaborated on a total of five plays at the Rita Allen Theater in New York City. The theater was a 187-seat house at 120 Madison Avenue (between 30th and 31st Streets), now the location of The American Academy of the Dramatic Arts.

In addition to her achievements on Broadway, Allen Cassel was recognized internationally for the quality of her productions. In 1955, she coproduced a Spanish version of The Teahouse of the August Moon, which was later sent on a tour of Latin America by the U.S. State Department’s International Exchange Program. In London, she coproduced Kismet in 1953 and Wonderful Town in 1954.

During their lifetimes, both she and Milton Cassel gave generously to a number of worthy causes, including the Rita Allen Foundation.

A scholarship in Rita Allen Cassel’s name was established at the American Theater Wing’s Professional Training Program in 1954, the same year she was named to their board of directors. She also served on the board of the City Center of Music and Drama, one of New York’s most popular cultural venues beginning in the mid-20th Century.

In 1965, Allen Cassel established the Dr. Nathan Friedman Chair in Cardiovascular-Renal Diseases, named in memory of her father, at the New York University School of Medicine. She was involved heavily in the efforts of the Westhampton Fund, a charity devoted to building a hospital in the Hamptons on Long Island.

Rita Allen Cassel’s first marriage was to Charles Robert Allen, Jr., a financier and investment banker, and founder of Allen & Company. She remarried to Milton Cassel in 1956.

Upon her death, Milton Cassel assumed the presidency of the Rita Allen Foundation until he died in 2004.